Monday, November 21, 2011

Tips for a Roadie Newbie

Yesterday I "baby-sat" a new rider on his maiden 60 km group ride. The 10 members of the group consisted mostly of his work mates.

The newbie rider has a loving and generous wife who bought him

  • a nice carbon road bike (only 7.3 kg!),
  • complete with helmet, gloves,
  • cycling shoes with cleats, Look clip-on pedals,
  • bottle cage, water bottle, saddle pouch,
  • jersey and cycling bib for his birthday.

Of course the wife was clever enough to get the advice of well-informed co-conspirators!. The birthday boy completed the 60 km Bt 14 Hulu Langat to Sg Tekala and back route under his own steam, which is pretty good for a newbie. I myself was huffing and puffing along the way. I really need to lose some weight!

Although the above items seem complete, there were a few items missing from the birthday boy's saddle pouch.

  • Must have items; spare tube, bike pump & tyre levers.
  • Good to have; cyclecomputer (if possible complete with speedometer, HRM & navigation aid).
  • Nice to have; a bike rack on your car and a good rain coat.

During the maiden ride, we had 3 tyre punctures, due to poor road conditions. I was one of those who had to replace his tyre inner tube during the ride home. The first one occurred much earlier, about 2 km before reaching the T-junction at Sg Lui. There was a delay in getting the first tube replaced due to a broken air-valve of the spare tube. The rigid hand bike pump and unskilled hands led to the broken air-valve. So a good hand bike pump is necessary. I have went through many hand bike pumps to date. For me, the best would be a model with a flexible hose to avoid breaking the air-valve, yet able to pump above 120 psi in a short time. Based on my reading, I bought the Lezyne Pressure Drive exactly two years ago.

Two years and many inner tube replacements later, I still swear by this hand bike pump. With this bike pump, I'll be up and riding again in a very short time. The aim is to get it done before the last rider of the group is already beyond the horizon, otherwise I'll be hard pressed to catch up.

You'll also need a tool to remove the inner tube. Previously I used the Topeak Alien Multitool which I had since 1991.

But it is like getting an atom bomb to kill a mosquito if you buy it just to remove the inner tube. But it is nice to have all these tools with you while riding. When the spoke of my my rear rim broke 6 weeks ago, the multitool came in useful to remove the broken spoke. Otherwise there was no way I could ride home that day.

So nowadays I use Park Tools Tyre Levers to remove the inner tube. So tough that you don't worry about breaking them. I think I bought 6 of them, a pair for each of my three bike pouches.

You also need to have a spare tube or two in your saddle pouch. I always carry two spare tubes due to my tendency to suffer tubes blowup during long rides. Must be due to my weight, because whenever I hit a pothole wrong, there will be a very high chance of a tyre/tube blowup. The weight weenies ends up buying lightweight tubes priced RM46 and above. I feel that it is better to buy the normal 700x25c tubes at RM12-RM15 each. Try to get MAXXIS tubes. Make sure the length of the air-valve is suitable for your rim. A high profile rim will require an extended valve or a valve-extension.

As for the HRM, speedometer, navigation aid combo; the best is to get the Garmin Edge 800 performance bundle. It has a built-in basemap and tracks your distance, speed, location and ascent/descent. It also comes supplied with the ANT+ heart rate monitor, speed/cadence sensor. Buy an 8GB microsd card and you'll be able install USA, Europe & SEA maps in it. Then you can also use it to get around during your overseas holidays. Most of the PPUKM riders that I know, got it from ebay. BJCC riders prefer to buy it from Wiggle.

I myself uses Polar s725X+HRM+speed sensor+cadence sensor. It was a big investment for me so I refuse to upgrade further. For my wife, I bought the Polar RS800CX+HRM+Speed Sensor. A much better one than mine.

Having a bike rack will make transporting your bike around much easier. The best is to get Thule roof bike rack. For those with carbon bikes, please remember to get the Outride model, not the ProRide model. I use ProRide bike racks since all my bikes are aluminium bikes. I wrote about alternatives to Thule bike rack before but in the end I myself uses Thule bike racks. Thule is a much superior product than other wannabe brands.

If you've some cash to spare, please do consider getting a good rain coat to ride in the rain. I myself bought the Gore-Tex Rain Jacket from Wiggle. I tried to get it locally since April from a local dealer but still no sign of it 6 months later. I bought it because it has excellent waterproofing, warmth and at the same time packing down into a small size to fit into my jersey pocket. Additionally the Gore Tex material means that the jacket remains highly breathable to prevent me from sweating (while riding in the rain!).

Any more tips for newbies? Please use the comment box to give your suggestions.


wanisan said...

Just get 'a bike' not THE BIKE n ride it. Also get a good helmet. Most important is to get started n enjoy your ride.
Iif later on you r crazy ( or shud I used 'passionate' ) about cycling then u worry about all those.

Zali GHK said...

1. do bring spare cash, preferably at least RM50 for longer ride. If you're OTW back approaching Ijok and your leg(s) cannot take it anymore, then the taxi fare to Bkt. Jelutong would cost u that amount.
2. Consider riding with a mentor/sweeper. In case you got left behind, at least there's someone who would be with you. Otherwise, it's lonely out there...:)

zalman zulkifli said...

Bro. Great write up. Having read it, you would be a great guy to go to Boon Foo with! Heh heh.

drtamil said...

wanisan - I still consider spare tube, bike pump & tyre levers as a must have items for all riders, irregardless RM, MTB, DH or foldies.
Zali GHK - good point. Never ride further than the distance that you can come to unless you can afford the taxi fare. As for being lonely, sorry for not being there during ICR.
Zalman - Thanks. I am still scared of Boon Foo ;-). He gave me a dressing down when I went there with KSH plastic bags :-D

won said...

Good piece of advise. always ride safely to enjoy our rides...

Abang Orait said...

When I go on a road ride, I always carry the following:
Topeak RaceRocket HP pump c/w flexible hose
Sunplay SPF130 Sunblock
Small microfiber cloth
RoadID tag
Waterproof bag
Hammer Perpeteum Solids
Hammer Endurolytes
Spare tubes - 2
CO2 - 2
Park Tool tire boot
Topeka Mini 20 Pro multi tool
Gerber Vise Mini tool
Tire levers
CO2 adapter
Spare chain link
Topeak Wedge Drybag saddle bag
Rear lights-2
Front light
Garmin Edge 800 c/w heart rate monitor & cadence/speed sensor
Water bottles-2

drtamil said...

TQ Won.
Abg Orait - your list of carry-on items beats my list.

@awangkuezlyman said...

I always bring Hammer Endurolytes, GU Gel and Salonpas Spray in every long ride. Selalu cramp arr...